by Martin Maenza
Green Lantern stood next to a large float constructed of green papier-mâché and other materials atop a flatbed truck. A middle-aged man finished going over the route with him; the hero continued to nod. But his attention was diverted by something he saw out of the corner of his eye. The emerald gladiator waited for the man to finish and move on before he went to investigate.
“G.A., is that you?” he called out.
The emerald archer stepped out into the street.
Green Lantern smiled. “I guess you decided to take me up on the offer after all,” he said, starting to lead his friend over to the float. “What changed your mind?”
“Let’s just say a little case I’m working on led me here,” Arrow replied. “I’m trailing some scum-bag from Star City, and it turns out he’s connected to some worms here in the Big Apple. Thought maybe I’d catch two birds with one stone.”
Green Lantern nodded. “Sounds good. No matter the circumstances, I’m glad you could make it. And you can count on me to have your back.”
“Thanks,” the archer replied. “Hopefully I won’t need it.”
As the float moved along the parade route amidst the marching bands playing Oh, Danny Boy and other classic Irish tunes, the two green-clad heroes stood atop the float.
Green Lantern was all smiles, waving to the crowds along the street that cheered and called out. Occasionally, when he spotted a group of children huddled together, he concentrated his willpower.
Suddenly, little emerald green energy constructs in the form of leprechauns would appear and play hide-and-seek amidst the children. The young ones would laugh and yelp with glee as they watched the apparitions play. Then, as quickly as they appeared, they would vanish. The kids probably thought it was magic.
But the hero knew better. Green Lantern turned to realize his partner was not in a partying mood. In fact, the archer’s eyes were narrowed and focused as he scanned the crowds as they moved past. Green Lantern leaned in. “This is a parade, a celebration,” he said. “Maybe I should’ve let you have a pint of green beer before we started.”
Green Arrow’s muscle tensed. He slipped the bow from his back. “Business before pleasure!” And he leaped off the float into the crowd.
The emerald gladiator was surprised by this. “Arrow? Arrow!” But it was too late; his friend was working his way through the crowd like a man on a hunt. He was about to go after him when he heard screams.
“Oh, my God!”
People were scurrying everywhere about the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street. A woman on one of the floats was screaming and pointing to a street sign. “Eeek!” she cried. There were hordes of insects swarming up the metal post.
“Bugs? In March?” Green Lantern wondered. This wasn’t normal.
The members of one of the marching bands dressed in green suits and hats were running, too, back toward the floats. At their heels were hundreds upon hundreds of rats. “Watch out! They’re everywhere!”
Green Lantern grimaced. “Rats before bugs!” His ring began to glow as he took to the air. Swooping through the air with ease, he soon was over the band members. “Now to put a stop to this!” He concentrated.
From his ring erupted a beam of emerald energy. It quickly took shape into that of a large dustpan. In a moment, the construct was sweeping through the running creatures. “Now to take out the trash,” the hero said.
“Leave my pets be!” a female voice ordered.
Green Lantern spun around to see a lithe woman floating in the air. Her hair was magenta, and her eyes were blue. Her face was beautiful, and the wings on her back further added to the angelic image. But the woman in gold and black was hardly an angel. “Queen Bee!” Green Lantern scowled.
“I said hands off!” the alien queen scowled. With a wave of her magno-nuclear rod, which looked like a fairy princess’ magic wand with its yellow bulbous end and star-like points, the hero was hurled backward in the air by a mighty blast.
Green Lantern righted himself and frowned. “Zazzala, I don’t know how you escaped imprisonment on your homeworld of Korll, much less how you’re able to move again, but I won’t just stand your crazy schemes!” (*) From his ring, an emerald hand formed and reached for her.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Winged Warriors of the Immortal Queen,” Justice League of America #60 (February, 1968).]
“I can take you beam for beam, Lantern!” Queen Bee replied. From her weapon, a yellow-colored beam sliced through the hand projection and destroyed it. “The weakness of the Oan rings is known throughout the cosmos.”
Green Lantern paused, having to consider the situation. The screams of the crowds snapped his attention back in focus. “People first,” he decided. Again, he went after the hordes of vermin that were plaguing the parade-goers and participants.
Surprisingly, Zazzala did little to stop him. In fact, she hovered there watching and smiling. What was her game?
Green Lantern decided to call her on it. “How’s attacking an Earth parade leading to your ultimate goal of immortality?” he asked as he continued to gather up the creatures in large, emerald energy barrels. “Seeking perhaps leprechaun magic this time?”
The Queen Bee smiled, her weapon glowing. “Not this time, fool! Immortality can wait. Right now, I’m after something more satisfying.”
“Yeah?” Green Lantern said as he covered the barrel with an energy lid. “And what’s that?”
“You!” Zazzala shouted.
A blast from her magno-nuclear rod caught Green Lantern off-guard, trapping him. Stupid! he thought to himself as he tried in vain to move. It was like being a fly caught in amber. She had laid a trap, and he had blundered into it.
The Queen Bee laughed. “Of all the Justice League members, you are the biggest thorn in my side. You destroyed my last weapon, and for that I will make you pay!”
“You going to turn me into your personal slave again?” Green Lantern asked. He recalled her last visit to Earth and how she had turned the JLA members into bee-drones to do her bidding. “To help you find a new way to become immortal?”
Queen Bee smiled wickedly. “No,” she said with a turn of her head, her magenta hair bouncing. “I’m going to kill you!”
“Halt, scum-bag!” Green Arrow shouted as he pushed through the crowd. A woman glared at him in surprise. “No, ma’am, not you. That scum-bag!” He pointed to the man who was fleeing with another by his side.
“Damn!” the second man said. “He must have trailed you from Star City!”
“I know! I know!”
The second man pulled a gun and took aim.
Green Arrow, in a single fluid motion, notched an arrow and let it fly. The shaft soared with perfect aim and jammed in the nozzle of the weapon.
When the trigger was pulled, the weapon exploded. “Ooowww!” the man exclaimed, his hand stinging.
“This’ll help you forget the pain!” Green Arrow said, swinging his fist. “This is for aiding and abetting a man who broke parole!” His punch connected, knocking the man to the ground.
The other man stood wide-eyed. The archer had just floored his cousin. “Can’t we talk about this?” he pleaded.
“Nope!” Green Arrow said as he was upon him.
Within a few moments, the hero had both men subdued and turned them over to the police. That’s when he learned about the other battle going on a few blocks away. With a quick run, Green Arrow rounded the corner and saw what was happening.
Oh, great! he thought to himself as he watched from the corner of a building. Hal’s in for it this time! Gotta try to even up the odds a bit!
Green Arrow leaped into the fray, an arrow ready to fly. “Hey, Queenie! Got something for you!”
Zazzala whirled about in the air just as the arrow whizzed past her. From the shaft released a net, which dropped down upon her. “You!” she cursed. “Your little weapons are nothing compared to my magno-nuclear rod!” With a wave of the weapon, the net disintegrated to dust. “Now, I’ll do the same to you!”
“Not if I can help it!” Green Arrow countered. Another arrow launched into the air and pierced the transparent yellow cocoon holding Green Lantern fast.
“Idiot! Your puny weapons won’t free him! Not as long as I have this weapon!”
That’s the idea, Green Arrow thought. He let two more shafts fly.
The first emitted a sonic wail as it whirled about her. “Aaagh!” Queen Bee cried, covering her ears. “You’ll pay for your treachery!” She waved her wand to make the sonic attacker go away.
That’s when the second arrow hit her hand firmly.
“Wha–?” The rod fell from her hand as the arrow latched onto the weapon and carried it back to the archer.
“Boomerang-arrow!” Green Arrow said. “Never leave home without it!” He grabbed her alien device and tried to figure out how to make it work.
“Fool!” Zazzala cried. “That won’t work for you! Now, give it back!”
“Uh-uh,” the archer said. “If I can’t use it, let’s see what this does!” Grabbing each end, he brought it down hard over his one knee. It was strong but not strong enough. He was able to snap it in two. “Damn! That smarted, but did it do the trick?”
“Nooo!” Queen Bee cried.
The cocoon about Green Lantern began to shimmer and fade. Without the weapon, its creation vanished.
“Whew!” the emerald gladiator said, taking in a deep breath. “That was a close one, buddy.”
“Would you like the honors, Lantern?”
“Of course, G.A.” Green Lantern pointed his ring as the alien queen and enveloped her in a container of emerald energy. “Let’s see how you like it, Queen Bee!”
“No! No!” She pounded on the prison in vain.
“I think I’d better take care of this one right away,” Green Lantern said. He started to rise into the air. “Care to accompany me on a little space trip, Arrow?”
“I’ll pass, buddy,” Green Arrow said. “Besides, someone needs to hold down the fort here while you’re gone.”
Green Lantern nodded. “Save a green beer for me.”
“You got it!” Green Arrow gave him a wink.